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[ih-spal-yer, -yey] /ɪˈspæl yər, -yeɪ/
a trellis or framework on which the trunk and branches of fruit trees or shrubs are trained to grow in one plane.
a plant so trained.
verb (used with object)
to train on an espalier.
to furnish with an espalier.
Origin of espalier
1655-65; < French, Middle French: trellis < Italian spalliera back rest, espalier, equivalent to spall(a) shoulder, support + -iera -ier2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for espalier
  • Can be sheared as a low hedge, grown as a pot plant for indoor use, or trained against a fence or espalier.
  • To train the espalier, the branches are tied to horizontal wires strung through eye hooks.
  • Pyracantha is beautiful as an espalier, bringing lush greenery and seasonal color to a blank wall or fence.
  • AN espalier is a plant whose branches are trained to an orderly and ornamental two-dimensional form.
  • She has tried espalier, the art of training trees and plants to grow in designs on a flat plane.
  • The technique of pruning plants flat against a wall is known as espalier.
  • It makes a beautiful espalier or free standing shrub.
  • The fence can be used as a growing surface for vines or espalier.
  • espalier or topiary: geometrical plant forms achieved through pruning.
British Dictionary definitions for espalier


an ornamental shrub or fruit tree that has been trained to grow flat, as against a wall
the trellis, framework, or arrangement of stakes on which such plants are trained
the method used to produce such plants
(transitive) to train (a plant) on an espalier
Word Origin
C17: from French: trellis, from Old Italian: shoulder supports, from spalla shoulder, from Late Latin spatula
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for espalier

1660s, from French espalier (16c.), from Italian spalliera "stake-works shoulder-high," from spalla "shoulder," from Latin spatula (see spatula).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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